10 Keys to Giving the Greatest Presentation of Your Life

by Marcus Sheridan

At this very moment, somewhere around the world, there is a presenter standing in front of his (or her) audience that is swallowing the sad reality that he has failed to deliver the message he hoped to achieve.

Maybe he was boring.

Maybe his content stunk.

Or maybe he just choked.

For those of you that know me, you might also know I used to be deathly afraid of public speaking. In fact, when I was 16, I was actually committed to never speaking in public.

But as fate would have it, time taught me that communication and speaking were actually a tremendous passion of mine, and since those early years I’ve spent much of my time learning the habits that make some presenters great, while others never seem to be able to ‘find the magic’.

For the past 3 days, I’ve been speaking at the ANLA convention in Louisville Kentucky about social media and content marketing. During that time period, I gave multiple presentations but today I’m going to share one that embodies everything I believe necessary to achieve the speaking results you’re looking for if your goal is to stand out and deliver a truly memorable message and experience to the listener. (Plus, if you’re interested in Social Media, you’ll love it ;-) )

So do me a favor and please watch this video. I promise, it won’t be boring. Although I’m speaking about the fear we have that competition will steal our ‘secret sauce’ if we’re active in social media and content marketing, pay attention to what makes this audience engaged. Notice why they laugh, nod, or shake their head. Observe the percentage of folks that are ‘truly’ listening. After you’re done, I’ve listed 10 specific tips (all of which I tried to apply in this presentation) that will truly help elevate your ability to give awesome presentations in the future, and I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below.

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10 Tips on How to Give the Greatest Presentation of Your Life

1. Get off the stage, get away from the pulpit

Granted, sometime you don’t have a  choice as to where you speak, but if you have the option, never use a pulpit (which is a wall between you and the audience) and never speak on a stage (puts you above the audience). Great presenters know how to perfectly ‘mix’ with their listeners. This is also why I always require a center aisle whenever I speak to a group of people, thus enabling me to simply ‘be a part of the group.’

2. Don’t Spend Time on Your Bio: No One Cares

When a moderator asks me what I would like to be said in my introduction, my words are always the same: “Just tell them(the audience) my name, they really don’t care about the rest.”

Bios, especially at the beginning of a presentation, often times make us appear as braggards. It’s much better to share incredible value with your audience and then if you’d like to tell them about yourself and why you’re awesome, do so at the end.

3. Set the Tone Right Away with Questions.

Do you want your presentations to be a ‘one-way’ or a ‘two-way’ street? Remember, people don’t want to listen to college professors when they’re hearing a presentation, they want to have discourse. They want interaction. So set the tone right with powerful questions as soon as possible.

4. Make sure name tags are being used, then call the people by name, directly.

If you watched the video you likely noticed I called almost everyone in the room by their name. This is also why I ask everyone to show their name tag (if they have one) whenever I speak, as the personal sound of one’s own name has a powerful effect on the intimacy of any communication.

5. Walk within the group.

Beyond #1 (getting off stage), there is power in walking within the group you’re presenting to. It is for this reason that I always require a center aisle whenever I speak to a group, as it allows me to freely move about the audience, and truly form a stronger bond with each person there.

6. Use slides that everyone will relate to but are outside of your niche.

If you watched the video, you noticed I used different cheeseburgers from popular fast-food companies to make my point. And why did I do this? Because we all love to eat, and we’ve all known these restaurants since we were little children.

7. Your slides don’t deliver the message, YOU do.

Along with #6, remember that audience members are there to hear YOU speak, not to read your slides. Nothing is worse than watching a presentation that would have been just as easily sent out as an email instead.

8. Manipulate the pace with rapid fire questions

Pace is a big deal with presenting. And when it’s fast, and everyone is involved, it makes for a powerful experience. In the video, notice how at times I would repeat the same question back to back to back in a rapid manner.

9. Make ‘em laugh

Who doesn’t enjoy laughing? If you’re stuck in a room as a group of people, you may as well have a good time, right? This is also why presentations shouldn’t be so rigid, as too much structure will deter your ability to capture the magic moments when they present themselves.

10. Passion!

We all know the deal with this one folks. If we can’t get excited as the presenter, how in the heck can we expect others to get truly interested in our words?

Your Turn:

OK, 2 questions for you: What are some further qualities that make for a great presenter/presentation? Also, what are some of your biggest pet peeves when you’re listening to someone speak? As always, I’d love to hear  your thoughts and feedback, as your voice truly matters here on TSL. :-)

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